Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fish Geek's Pick-O-The-Week: Zebra Moray Eel!

Zebra Moray Face, by Scott Rettig

Zebra Moray Eel

Hawaiian: Puhi
Latin: Gymnomuraena zebra

Kohala Divers' crew of Fish-Geeks usually spots this eel by the distinctive thicker white stripes on a dark brown background of the neck/body/tail of the eel. Sometimes swimming in the open, the zebra moray will then curl in the reef with it's head hidden, making the striped body stand out, and a game of hunt-for-the-eel-head afoot.
The Zebra Moray is the only member of its genus Gymnomuraena. The Hawaiian name "Puhi" is the name for all moray eels, with the zebra having an unknown Hawaiian distinction. Eels were a very popular food for the Hawaiians, and prized by the ali'i. Of the many ways to hunt an eel, perhaps the most notable was  "eel pinching", wherein a fisherman would tempt eels out of the reef by dangling a tasty bit of squid, and then snatch the exposed eels up with a free fist.

Scott says, "Unlike most morays, the zebra moray has molars used to crush up invertebrates; shrimp, crabs, etc..." 
John P. Hoover says, "Although lacking sharp teeth, they are not harmless; a Honolulu aquarist bitten on the finger describes the experience 'painful, like a vice.' "

Kama'aina? Nope.
Size: To 5 feet (usually smaller).
Depth: Variable. In our common experience we see them shallow to 60'... but then that is where we usually dive.
White List? Although the Zebra Moray is not on the whitelist of fish legal to take in West Hawaii, its relative Global commonality does make it a popular aquarium fish. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fish Geek's Pick-O-The-Week: The Endemic Hawaiian Fantail FileFish!

The Hawaiian Fantail Filefish! (Gorgeous photo by Robyn Smith).

Hawaiian Fantail Filefish.

Hawaiian: O'ili 'Uwi'uwi.
Latin: Pervagor spilosoma.

John P Hoover says, "... Fantail Filefishes are yellow, marked with black spots, and have bright orange, fanlike tails. Blue markings about the mouth and throat further adorn these beautiful little fishes. They frequently pair off in a head-to-tail position, raising and lowering their spines, and spreading their colorful tails in some sort of territorial or sexual display." -From Hoover's Hawaii's Fishes.

Robyn says, "The Hawaiian Fantail Filefish is one of the rarest fish in the world: Not only does it exclusively exist in Hawaii, but it's population goes through Boom-or-Bust cycles, making it all but absent from the reefs most years. The last time this magnificent fish was seen with any regularity was in the 1980s, but is again being spotted throughout the state this year. How very exciting is that?!"

"O'ili"- meaning "To Appear", "to sprout", or "come up"- probably taken from the single raised dorsal spine, or perhaps their tendency to appear in a sudden bloom and then die en masse and wash to shore. The Hawaiians of old supposedly thought the rare bloom of the Fantail Filefish was an omen of an upcoming death of a member of the royal family.
" 'Uwi'uwi" -meaning "To squeal" and eerily taken from the fish' squealing sound as they are taken from the water.

Kama'aina? Endemic.
Size? To 7 inches. Usually smaller.
Where? Recently spotted in shallow enough water to snorkel. Less than 35'.
White List? NOT legal to take for aquarium collection.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Becoming a Scuba Instructor

Have you ever watched your Scuba Instructor give a boat briefing and thought, "She has the life! Getting paid to dive!" Have you ever thought that this might be the life for you, too? Recently we had two Divemasters make the wonderful transformation to PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors, and I thought I would let you in on some details of the process.

"But wait", you are asking, "Isn't DIVEMASTER the absolute height of Diving coolness?" Well, maybe. They get the coolest-sounding name. But a Divemaster is trained to lead certified divers on underwater tours, handle any problems that occur, and teach refresher courses.

To become an Open Water Scuba Instructor, Divemasters must attend a gruelling 9 day program called an Instructor Development Course with a PADI Course Director. During the class, they learn the PADI curriculum and develop their own teaching style. They are tested on dive theory and skills, and they are taught to develop classroom presentations, pool training, and open water teaching and evaluating techniques. The Course solidifies an Instructor-Candidate's excellent dive skills, and often inspires an enthusiasm and love for teaching that can be carried over into a successful career.
After this course, an Instructor-Candidate is then eligible to attend a PADI Instructor Examination, where-in a PADI Examiner comes out from Southern California and evaluates and tests the Candidates. By passing this 2-day exam, a Divemaster becomes a newly-minted Instructor. Our Examiner this past September was Gordon Apons, a 20 year veteran of Instructor Examinations. He was thrilled with our whole batch of candidates, which included our amazing new Instructors Oliver and Elizabeth! Examiner Apons was enthusiastic and supportive, and said of our group, "These were some of the best-prepared candidates I have seen in my whole time as Examiner." Right on, guys! So what is next for our new Instructors? At Kohala Divers, the training continues, as we intern the new Instructors with our more seasoned crew. Watching Divemasters make the jump to Instructors is almost as joyful and proud as watching new divers becoming Open Water Certified. We all know that Scuba Diving is life-changing. Please congratulate Oliver and Elizabeth when you next dive with them, as they have joined the ranks of people who make divers. And that is amazing.